Secret 7’s exhibition for Record Store Day

The Secret 7″s concept is something that ticks a number of boxes for me: vinyl, art and limited edition collectables. Set up by Kevin King from Universal Records, the idea is to take 7 different bands and ask hundreds of artists to design one-off sleeves for a 100 copy limited edition 7″ record by them. These are then displayed at the Idea Generation Gallery in Shoreditch and each is made available for sale on Record Store Day for a minimum price of £40 – all of which goes to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The 7 artists participating this year were The Cure, Florence & The Machine, Bombay Bicycle Club, DJ Shadow, CSS, Noah & The Whale and Ben Howard with artists designing covers ranged from David Shrigley, Central Station and Stylorouge through to Luke Insect, Felt Mistress and Nigel Peake as well as complete unknowns. All of the musicians involved also contributed designs, sometimes not for their own releases, but each record was completely anonymous. No info was anywhere to be seen, either of the artist, track title or cover designer – hence the name Secret 7″. Here’s a gallery of the ones that caught my eye when I visited the preview although there were a few I couldn’t fit in as I’d completely filled up my camera by the time I reached the end.

The range of designs was completely across the board, lots of recurring themes popped up though: animals, stars, flies, hearts and Florence Welch featured repeatedly with her flowing red locks, presumably for her release. Not all of the sleeves illustrated the contents so literally though, one release was a three dimensional, playable guitar (see gallery above) and other sleeves were knitted, collaged, embroidered or cut to reach their final state. I didn’t make it on the morning of the 21st as I was playing in Rat Records in Camberwell, but finally managing to get there at 4pm and they’d sold around half already as you can see from the panorama below.

Several of the ones I wanted had obviously long gone by 4pm and I was looking to pick up a copy of DJ Shadow‘s ‘Come On Riding (Through The Cosmos)’ so a space theme was the first to search out. I grabbed one with a collage featuring an astronaut first of all but another, with a Victorian-style elevator in the sky I’d spotted as I walked in, had mysteriously vanished. Another I’d liked at the preview I spied in the hands of a guy ‘um-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’ over several sleeves and then suddenly I located the sky elevator sleeve again, maybe someone had put it back? I was pretty sure I had at least one Shadow in those two but then I noticed the guy had put the other sleeve back. After making sure he definitely didn’t want it I snagged that too. He thought it would be a Florence one due to the shock of pink that could have been hair but for some reason it reminded me of the guy from CSS, not sure why.

Taking three £40 7″s to the counter isn’t something I regularly do, in fact I can categorically say that I’ve never spent that much on a 45 ever, but knowing that I was getting bona fide one-off items and that the money was going to charity actually erased any quibbles about it being too much. I’ve not been that excited about buying a record in a long while, the ‘lucky dip’ aspect of it as the sales assistant went to the box to retrieve the particular single for each sleeve (each was stickered with a number) was a genuine thrill. Even better was when she came back with the first 7″ – I’d guessed right, the collage with the astronaut, by Robin Antiga, was the DJ Shadow single!

The second 7″ came back, this time by Sebas & Clim – the last one I’d chosen, and it was for CSS, not Florence.

The third choice – the sky elevator sleeve, by Domonic Arroyo – arrived and it was another DJ Shadow, result!

Even though I had a hole in my wallet the size of a 7″ I left the gallery as pleased as punch knowing that the money had gone to a good cause whilst I had three unique pieces of art and vinyl to add to my collection. Much praise to Kevin King for coming up with such a unique way to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust on Record Store Day, I’m hoping to submit designs for next years round and you can hear a short interview I did with him at the gallery on the Record Store Day special broadcast on Strongroom Alive on April 21st.


10 thoughts on “Secret 7’s exhibition for Record Store Day

  1. I don’t think mine was signed by Shadow, it’s rare for the artist that does the music to sign the sleeves I think. Don’t have anything I’m selling at the moment I’m afraid

  2. Looking at it again, it is not stamped on the back like the others. It’s also signed by shadow(looks legit), I wonder if it was perhaps Robins artists copy??

  3. It was sold to me as sleeve only, but when it arrived it had a bombay bicycle club record. Which isn’t a huge problem given I expected it to be empty, and have a copy I bought at the time. I’m a bit of a collector, and always on the lookout for shadow or shadow related items, do you have anything your thinking of selling now?

  4. I sold my astronaut copy a few years back, can’t remember where, it might have been eBay, it definitely had the right record in it though. I still have the Sky Elevator copy though

  5. Kev/Robin what happend with the astronaut sleeve?
    I have a copy, which I purchased online, but has the wrong vinyl inside. I wondered if either of you sold your copy at some point?

  6. thanks for your post….Glad you got a copy, as the designer, I am still waiting for my copy of it from Talenthouse….what a bunch of *****…!!!

  7. Thanks Kyle, not seen that one before, I’ll post it later, the remaining 7″s are going on sale on TCT’s eBay page today at 5pm.

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